[Anonymous] in NYC here, to share my experience and strength, and where I get my hope. "It's always the bitchy women who get the nice men," I observed when I was full of patience (and enabling) and stuffing my face, and attracting the Users and the Losers. Well, now I'm the bitchy woman, and I'm abstinent, and I have possibly as nice a guy for a husband (of 16 years) as any who ever walked the face of the earth. Got sober in AA 27.6 years ago. Binge-free 18.9 years. Abstinent on the GS 11.6 years. Lots of time watching what works and what doesn't. I went to my first OA mtg in 1972, when I was in Al-Anon -- before I got sober a few months later. At that time, pretty much everyone in the room was abstinent. The only food plan was the Greysheet. There were two OA meetings a week in NYC. The talk was pretty tough. Most of the members had come from AA, where, at that time, it was very common to say to a newcomer "Take the cotton out of your ears, and put it in your mouth." I returned to OA in 1975, when, 2 years sober, I had quit smoking 4 packs of cigarettes a day, and my food problem REALLY took off. By then, OA had gotten lots bigger in NYC. There were alternate food plans (the Orange Sheet, the Blue Sheet, -- and as a friend on GS says -- the Bullsheet). A lot less recovery, but a lot more "LOVE" talk. And a lot more "gentleness" and excuses for taking a little extra food, or going off the food plan. After all, "you had a hard time...."
As years went by -- and there were about 7 of them before I was able to actually put down the food -- I watched the blossoming in the regular rooms of OA of so much so-called LOVE, and so much GENTLENESS! I watched the Big Book and Step workshops multiply. I watched overweight people leading these Big Book and Step workshops. I saw very little abstinence. I watched the ABSTINENT people in NYC regular OA (maybe one in 30?) being very low-keyed, very quiet. I STUDIED them, because they were my only hope. The ones with a few years were never available to sponsor. They didn't laugh. They rarely smiled. It was damn hard being abstinent in a room full of food-drunk people dumping about everything, except about not picking up that first compulsive bite, no matter what. [In AA meetings, there's a convention that "if you've been drinking or used any mood-changers today, we ask you not to share in the meeting -- but rather, approach one of us after the meeting to speak with us."] When I found the small Cambridge GreySheet Group in NYC in 1989, I was "circling the drain" -- coming perilously close to a return to bingeing. At that time, there were some pretty hard-talking people with relatively long abstinence here. I was attracted to them, because they were clear as a bell, and they always seemed to take responsibility for themselves -- something I find immensely refreshing, appealing, and inspiring. FOR ME, IT'S A PROMISE OF RECOVERY! These abstinent greysheeters were NOT attributing their recovery to the LOVE they received. They were attributing it the CLARITY and BOUNDARIES they were shown and guided to implement. Clarity, truth, boundaries -- you have these, the love takes care of itself. THAT gave me HOPE -- that had the ring of TRUTH to it, for me. A message with depth and substance. After all, if I'm a VICTIM, and I give power to those mean bad guys the world is well supplied with, then I'm more or less condemned to remain hurt, abused, and in the food. Being the supersensitive person that I am, if I had waited till someone was nice and gentle and loving to me before I started to take responsibility for myself, and picked up the set of tools that is laid at my feet, it just might never have happened! One of the most empowering things I heard in an AA meeting in my very early sobriety was this. A newcomer was looking for a kind person they could trust, to help them so they could stay sober. One of my sober role models shared in response that sooner or later everyone will let you down, because that's how humans are. Trust the PROGRAM. Trust a Higher Power. But don't wait for other people's behavior to change, before you decide to bite the bullet and take responsibility for yourself and your alcoholism. Don't pick up that first drink, no matter what, and trust that Power greater than yourself to protect you from all dire consequences of not drinking. Weigh and measure that food: FACE THE TRAGEDY OF 4 OUNCES - and trust that you won't starve to death, go insane, or die of the pain. Trust that those who have gone before are telling the truth, when they say that there is LIFE on the other side of jumping off that cliff. "Once you have faced the tragedy of 4 ounces, you can face just about anything." That's my experience. Making the total commitment - just for today - to W&M my 3 abstinent GS meals No Matter What -- somehow, magically, starts to empower me an OTHER areas of my life. One of my favorite things I heard said by the "toughest" long-term abstinent person in NYC at that time was, "The most spiritual thing I do in a day is to weigh and measure my food. And it's also the most loving. Also the SEXIEST." With certain sponsees who keep slipping, it's very common for a sponsor to forestall talk about the details of one's EMOTIONAL life until a sponsee has 90 days back to back of GS abstinence. It's a very clear way of saying: NOTHING that's going on in your life can make you take that first compulsive bite, if you put your abstinence FIRST. I tell my sponsees: Get Abstinent First -- Then Maybe We'll Talk About "Love" -- which is a lot more elusive and harder to pin down than 3 weighed and measured meals. I'm very grateful to say that my life is FLOODED with love. That would never happen before abstinence, because I wasn't truly capable of letting love in, or of GIVING love when I was in the food. Also - once the food's in place, once one has a few months of abstinence, the FOG begins to clear. Once a person stops throwing the monkey-wrench of non-abstinent food into everything, all the things they were so concerned about before are bound to be seen in a whole new light. THEN it's really time to start sorting the life issues out. Then a person has the clarity to do it. I have little patience for the "life problems" of someone in the food. I'm not a therapist. Thank the HP, this is not a social club. I'm here to be abstinent, and to help others find out how I do it. I certainly AM interested in the experiences of people who are ready to GO through those experiences WITHOUT TAKING THE FIRST COMPULSIVE BITE. When a person -- even a very nice, good person -- is just looking for company and a sympathetic ear while they experiment, diet, and try to figure out if they might decide to W&M w/o exception some day -- I'm not the person to do it around. I will welcome them with open arms when they make up their mind to do what I do -- NOT for a lifetime, but for just for now. To give it their ALL, just for now. The Big Book is wonderfully clear on this point. P. 96 "Search out another alcoholic and try again. You are sure to find someone desperate enough to accept with eagerness what you offer. We find it is a waste of time to keep chasing a man who cannot or will not work with you. If you leave such a person alone, he may soon become convinced that he cannot recover by himself. To spend too much time on any one situation is to deny some other alcoholic an opportunity live and be happy." This is the longest share I've ever seen on the Greynet. If you made it this far, WOW. Thanks. Most sincerely, w&m'g 3 meals a day w/o exception off the gs - by the grace of the HP, and the example (both good and bad) of this GS community.
Anonymous in NYC
(originally written around 9/13/2000, and in April '05, celebrated 16 years of B2B abstinence!)